Media @ McGill

"Preliminary thoughts on anti-colonial hacking"

Submitted by Media@McGill on


Sophie Toupin


The Media@McGill Graduate Travel Award allowed me to participate in the conference entitled Strategic Narrative for Technology and Africa that was held on September 1 and 2, 2017 at the Madeira Interactive Technologies Institute (M-ITI), Madeira, Portugal.  This conference was important for my Ph.D. as it gathered African and non-African technologists, academics and cultural producers who work at the intersection of Africa and technology from critical perspectives.

During the conference, I presented a paper entitled: Preliminary thoughts on anti-colonial hacking. In my paper, I gesture toward the conceptualization of “anti-colonial hacking” as a category of hacking. Through this umbrella term, I investigated what the concept does and how it might complicate our understanding of hacking practices. I use the case study of an encrypted communication system developed and used during the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa to think through the relevance of this new category, to elaborate what such a concept might mean and what it tells us about an expanded notion of anti-colonialism. I then briefly reflect on possible continuities (and discontinuities) between past and current anti-colonial hacking practices.

As the selection process for the conference was rigorous, I received relevant feedback from three blind peer reviewers on a draft conference paper and received more feedback during my presentation. Participating to the conference was of high relevance at this early stage of my PhD and was a good way to get to know other professors, post-doctoral fellows and PhD students/candidates working on similar issues.